YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A trip to the gym can be ghoulish enough for some people. No need to tempt any evil superstition.

The $11.8 million addition to Yokota’s Samurai Fitness Center isn’t quite ready, but base officials recently switched the building number from 666 to 665, apparently not wishing to stamp the new facility with the “Mark of the Beast.”

“When I first saw it, I just busted out laughing,” recalls fitness center director Pat Coleman. “I asked the contractors, ‘Do you know what “666” means?’ They said, ‘Is it for good luck?’ I said, ‘No, it’s like the number “4” in Japan. If we keep it “666,” we’re gonna have to bless that building many, many times.’

“I had some staff say, ‘Whoa, what’s this? I’m not going in that building.’”

The 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, which is responsible for numbering all installation buildings, made the change “in consideration that some members of the community might have concerns over using the number 666,” said Yokota marketing director Paul Floyd.

Coleman, who’s also a personal trainer, joked that he would have kept it that way. “What the heck? Let’s see who’s worse here — me or the devil,” he said, laughing.

The two-story annex will house the base’s Health and Wellness Center, free weights and Nautilus machines, group exercise equipment, an aerobics room and a multipurpose court for basketball, volleyball and circuit training.

Coleman said all cardio, stretching and spinning regimens will take place in the existing facility. The new place gets all strength apparatuses, group training exercises, unit fitness events, circuit training and some intramural sports.

The gym is to receive about 100 pieces of new strength equipment, he added, while the transfer also frees up two large rooms in the main fitness center. That will allow for 75 extra cardio machines, including new treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines.

The project essentially will double the amount of fitness center space and bring it up to Air Force standards for a base the size of Yokota. Right now, the gym is about 25,000 square feet short of designated requirements, officials said.

“The new facility will allow consolidation of all classes and programs under one roof,” Floyd said. “Additional space also will alleviate crowding and allow expansion and addition of more classes.”

The Japanese government has picked up $8.3 million of the cost so far, Floyd said. Construction began in May 2006.

Grand opening is tentatively scheduled for early May.

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